Friday, September 30, 2016

Rogers Media goes digital-first with a bang in its magazine division

[This post has been updated] In a digital-first bombshell, Rogers Media today announced major changes to its magazine publishing operations that will mix wholesale divestment of titles, getting out of the French language and business-to-business market altogether and shifting several well-known titles to digital only.

It will divest itself of ChâtelaineLOULOU, and L'actualité and all of its business-to-business titles. It is discontinuing print publication of FLARESportsnetMoneySense, and Canadian Business and making them available exclusively on the web and on apps beginning in January.

Magazines that will remain in print will do so with reduced frequency: Maclean's will appear monthly, Chatelaine and Today's Parent 6 times a year. 
"We are going where our audiences are, and doubling-down on digital to grow our consumer magazine brands," said Rick Brace, president, Rogers Media. "We have already made significant investments in creating content and making it available on digital platforms, including Texture, Sportsnet NOW, and Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE, and today's announcement builds on that."
Steve Maich, senior vice president of digital content & publishing, Rogers Media, said
"It's been clear for some time now that Canadians are moving from print to digital, and our job is to keep pace with the changes our audiences are demanding.  We are so much more than a collection of magazine brands, and we've seen rapid growth on our digital platforms over the past few years.  Now is the time for us to accelerate that shift." 
Rogers says it has committed more than $35 million in capital and marketing to create and promote digital content and transition the business to a digital-first infrastructure. 
The company's release said that it has a combined digital reach of 3.8 million Canadians a month for the first half of 2016, up 30% year over year.

Print subscribers will continue to receive their magazines until the end of the year and may choose to choose among several options thereafter, including receiving a full refund on their accounts.

There was no immediate information about staff attrition at the magazines that remain or are going digital only, nor any information about the employment impact on b2b and French language publishing staff. 

[Update] Among the b2b publications now on the block: The Medical Post, Marketing, Canadian Grocer,  Benefits Canada, Canadian Insurance Broker, Advisor's Edge, Avantages, Corporate Risk and Conseiller.

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Anonymous Joe Clark said...

Describing what you otherwise concede is a wholesale shutdown of not just magazines but entire magazine categories as “go[ing] digital-first with a bang” does not just cross the line of lying to readers but stomps all over it. The fact that you underplay the job losses involved makes matters worse. And at the root of all this mendacity resides the Big Lie that there is such a thing as a “digital magazine.”

Further, isn’t “divestment” what liberal Western businesses and universities did to South Africa in the ’80s?

9:10 am  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

I didn't lie to readers and it's a shame you accuse me of doing so. I reported what I knew and there may well be additional reporting when more is known. Likely job losses were referred to in the post and, frankly, I don't know what the job losses will be.

If you don't believe there is such a thing as a digital magazine, your quarrel is with the senior management at Rogers, not with me.

10:25 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, shame on Joe Clark for attacking DB for this post.

There will be job losses at Rogers, for sure. But Rogers is not running a jobs or welfare program; it is running a business. And its customers (rightly or wrongly) don't want as much of its paper-based product anymore. What the heck are they to do?

And, yes, there is such a thing as a digital magazine.

3:15 pm  
Anonymous Jess Ross said...

While I love print magazines and I'm sorry to hear of these changes, I know that there is such a thing as a digital magazine, and done well I love them too. Digital magazines are an important part of porting magazine brands into a digital place that allows for revenue direct from readers.

4:10 pm  
Anonymous Joe Clark said...

In point of fact I don’t expect an industry lobby group to hew to even the most basic standards of accuracy. Hence while I wasn’t surprised to read an outright deceptive gloss on a near-complete retreat from magazine publishing, it’s still a case of lying to readers.

“Digital-first strategy” means “We’re shutting down print periodicals and running ill-produced Web sites in their stead.” Stated even more bluntly, it means “We’re shutting down magazines and switching to blogging.” It also means “We have no idea how to make money” (even though Tyler Brûlé, for example, does).

I assume Jess Ross’s “digital magazines” are PDF replicas (portrait in orientation) that he purports to read and enjoy on his computer monitor (landscape orientation).

11:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So Mr. Clark, you're sure Rogers is "switching to blogging"? Ha, I assume you're sharing that sophisticated insight via the information superhighway? (landscape orientation no doubt)

11:20 am  

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